We have a right to know how the food we eat and feed our families is produced, but under current FDA regulations, we don’t have that ability when it comes to genetically engineered foods (GMOs).
More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods. And a recent poll found that nearly all Democrats (93%), Independents (90%), and Republicans (89%) support labeling of GMOs. At a time when partisan rancor dominates the public conversation, there are few topics that can muster such overwhelming support.
And although over 1 million people submitted comments in favor of labeling, the FDA has yet to act.
President Obama, please listen to the American public and speak out in favor of the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Response to Petition
In recent years, Americans have expressed more interest in understanding how their food is produced -- including whether it was produced using genetic engineering.
This Administration is well aware of that interest, and we take it very seriously.
That's why, for this petition response, we reached out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- the agency that's responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the majority of the nation's food supply. They're working on the issue of genetically modified foods, and gave us a few updates on that front.
Right now, food manufacturers can put labels on their foods indicating whether they've been developed through genetic engineering. These voluntary labels must be truthful and accurate, and the FDA issued draft guidance to the food-manufacturing industry about what those labels should look like.
The FDA has also received two Citizen Petitions about the labeling of genetically engineered foods. It's in the process of reviewing those petitions and considering the issues presented. Once the agency reaches a decision in those filings, we will be sure to let you know in a follow-on update message. You can learn more about FDA's Citizen Petitions and the process through which they're submitted here.
In addition, through the USDA's National Organic Program, consumers can identify food that was produced without any genetically engineered ingredients. Whenever you see the USDA Organic seal (which looks like this), it means that the food was grown without the use of prohibited pesticides, genetically modified organisms, synthetic fertilizers, or irradiation.
And just this month, the White House issued a memorandum directing the FDA, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the transparency, predictability, coordination, and efficiency of the biotechnology regulatory system while continuing to ensure the safety of the products of biotechnology. Learn more about the specifics of that memo here.
One last thing: This response is just the latest part of an ongoing conversation about how our food is produced. Stay tuned.
We'll be back in touch with more updates soon.
Follow @WeThePeople on Twitter all day long for a series of Q+As with various Administration officials on the petition responses we released today.